Bingu swallows pride to reinstate lecturers

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika who is the Chancellor of the University of Malawi (Unima), has directed that Chancellor College  -the main constituent college of Unima  -be opened and that the four lecturers  who were fired for being at  the centre of an academic freedom wrangle that has paralysed the university, should be reinstated.

Mutharika directed that Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (CCASU) acting President Dr. Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula, CCASU legal advisor Dr. Garton Kamchedzera, CCASU Secretary General Franz Amin and the man at the centre of the controversy, Dr. Blessings Chinsinga should be reinstated without any preconditions.

The announcement was made on state run broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday afternoon.

Mutharika: Wants Chanco opened

In a statement released by the Office of President and Cabinet and aired during the mid-day news bulletin, Mutharika said he has been reviewing the closure of Chancellor College for more than eight months and feels that the shut down violates the right to education of the student.

“I am anxious that Chancellor College be reopened without further delay. I have reviewed the indefinite closure of Chancellor College for nearly eight months and [I’m] greatly concerned that it had prevented innocent students from pursuing their education,” reads the statement from the OPC.

Mutharika also repeated the reassurance of academic freedom but maintained denying that government has never placed any spies on any campus.

The statement also revealed that government has constituted a commissioned of enquiry to examine the saga, review the causes and make recommendations to create a conducive teaching/learning environment.

Reacting to the news, president of Polytechnic Academic Staff on Welfare (PASCOW) Griffin Salima said he hoped sanity will prevail at last

“This is what we have been waiting for, the mood here is happy…that is face value, and we are yet to digest the news,” Salima told Nyasa Times.

Marcia Melo tweeted: “Ambuye ndi Boss!!! Who knew this day would come??…when our hope would come alive once more….#Chanco

But there has been anger as well as students and commentators have been asking why it took Mutharika all this time to review this simple matter.

“The result is Chanco 1- Bingu 0, Its all has been a case of arrogance and pride on the part of Bingu, I think he has re-opened the colleges because he fears that he might be booed at the Perth Commonwealth conference that he is going to,” said one commentator.

Efforts to contact the four proved futile but there is jubilation among the students of the college, many who had lost hope and enrolled with smaller institutions like Malawi College of Accountancy to pass time.

The opening date for Chanco has not been given.

Lecturers at Chancellor College, based in the eastern town of Zomba, downed their tools on February 16 four days after one of their number – political science associate professor Chinsinga – was summoned by Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhito over a class example.

Chinsinga  had reportedly said the insurrections that toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt are caused by policy failures like those that led to the fuel crisis in Malawi.

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